Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another Tale of Frustration: Dealing With DirecTV

On our last visit – I shared with you some of the frustrations that I have been having and I promised that I would share my frustrations with DirecTV and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  As many of you know – and even the casual reader of this blog can easily figure out – I love TV – what I don’t like is when I can’t watch television because of an equipment malfunction and that’s what lit the fuse in one of my recent frustrating moments.

I live in an area that is not served by cable.  Even though Comcast has wired the area everywhere around where I live – they have not wired our street where I live – plus, I wouldn’t have the rat bastards at Comcast wire my home for anything.   So, if I want to enjoy television I have only two choices – hooking up an antenna (which isn’t a great solution because I am miles from a grade A television signal) or hooking up with one of the satellite television providers.  I chose the later.  At one time, I subscribed to Dish Network – but I changed to DirecTV after Dish took one of the channels that we liked and pushed it into the next tier of programming.

I instantly liked DirecTV from the moment that they hooked us up.  DirecTV comes across as a little more professional operation than the Mom and Pop approach that Dish has.  Plus -- with DirecTV we were able to get more channels than we had with Dish and they also provided us a DVR with our service.

I never thought that a DVR was that big of a thing – only because I never owned one – I always looked at it as a glorified VCR – boy, was I wrong!  The pause feature when you’re watching something live has been a godsend for us folks with aging bladders.  With our DirecTV DVR – we can pause through any one of the ka-zillion  prescription drug commercials on the nightly news so we can take a piss and not miss a moment of Brian Williams and the news.  Can the poor folks in some third world country pause the programming on their TV set – I don’t think so! 

Well, you can imagine my frustration on a recent Sunday morning when the picture went out on our DirecTV and my girlfriend went through all of the “do-it-yourself repair” fixes that they tell you to do but to no avail.  When the do-it-yourself fixes don’t work, I know that you have to get on the horn and talk to someone directly about your problem – which is what I did. I was hoping that there was a way to fix it, because I couldn’t bare the thought of losing everything I had recorded that I had yet to watch – such as –

1)                  The last six episodes of last season’s “Rescue Me”
2)                  The last three recent episodes of “Parenthood” and “The Good Wife”
3)                  About a week and a half worth of “Conan” and “The Late Show With David Letterman” (including the episode of Letterman where he admitted having sex with an intern)
4)                  A few movies that I had yet to watch such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Dark Knight”…..

Plus, I had recorded a bunch of different episodes of “Dora the Explorer”, “The Cat in the Hat”, “Angelina Ballerina” and “Thomas the Train” for the grandchildren for when they come to visit.

DirecTV is like every other company that you call in that you have to deal with a bunch of recorded prompts to get you to a live person (who can be anywhere from in your own hometown to Bumfuck, Egypt – luckily DirecTV’s representatives are right here in the good ole USA) And just like every other company’s recorded prompts – you usually end up yelling into your phone receiver because the “prompts” didn’t catch what you told them and you have to go through the whole process again….but 4eventually you will reach a live human being.

When I finally reached a human being on the other end of the line and I told her what my problem was – she went through the whole process of what I could do to fix my DirecTV receiver.  I explained to her that we did everything but put our finger on my head and twirl around the living room and the receiver still didn’t work to which she explained that she would send us a new receiver – this is where the real fun begins.

“Mr. Frost, we can ship a new receiver to you and you can have it in a couple of days,” the DirecTV representative said on the phone.

“And will there be a charge for the receiver,” I asked.

That’s when she went on to say that there would be no charge for the receiver, but there would be a twenty-one dollar and some odd cents charge for the shipping and handling.

“That’s not acceptable,” I responded.  “You’re going to charge me shipping and handling for a receiver that I pay an additional fee for each month to receive programming that you charge me dearly for…I don’t think so.”

And that’s when I was put on hold – which eventually lead to me getting disconnected and hearing a dial tone on the end of my telephone receiver….which meant another phone call back to DirecTV and another ten minutes or so getting connected to a live person and telling that person the whole story.  And like the previous DirecTV representative – they were a little startled when I told them that I wouldn’t pay for shipping and handling for a new receiver….to which I was put on hold again.

When the DirecTV representative returned to the phone, I was informed that they would waive the shipping and handling fee and that I would receive the new box in a couple of days and I could hook up the new box.— to which I confronted them the fact that I would not hook up this box  and couldn’t they send someone to my home to hook it up for me.  I was informed that the instructions to hooking up the receiver are easy and I responded that I don’t care how easy the instructions were – I wasn’t hooking up their box.  I’m of the opinion that for the money that I pay DirecTV each month for programming, it only behooves them to hook up a god-damn receiver for one of their customers.  This DirecTV representative didn’t see it that way – so, I told them that they could disconnect their damn service and I’ll just get my satellite TV programming from Dish.  I was put on hold again….but not for long….but when the “voice” returned – it wasn’t the same person that I was talking to and I had to go through the whole story all over again.

So – the story was retold again for the third time.  My box doesn’t work.  I’m not paying for shipping and handling for a new receiver and I’m not going to hook up the new receiver myself – you can send a service person to hook it up or you can disconnect my service and I’ll go to Dish.  Plus, I added another wrinkle to my frustration – I had been on the phone nearly two hours with them and had been disconnect once and redirected to two other people – with me having to retell my story each and every time.  If I can’t get any satisfaction from you people at DirecTV – cancel me out and I’ll call Dish. 

I was put on hold again – but not for long – and I was forward to another department – the name escapes me right now, but this is the department that they send people that are extremely pissed and only people in this department has any authority to make it right.  This DirecTV representative apologized for all that I went through and told me that they would send a service person to my house the next day and that there would be no charge for the box or the service call – because I have been a loyal customer since 2008.  When I asked him why the first person that I talked couldn’t do what he was doing for me in the way of customer service – he didn’t have any real answer – but he apologized for all of the hassle and the inconvenience.

The next day – a local DirecTV service person arrived at my door with a brand new receiver – complete with a new remote that actually works with the flat screen television that we bought last year….and like all good stories – “and they all lived happily ever after.”

(It should be noted that my DirecTV service is bundled with my telephone service and the day after we received the new box from DirecTV…I noticed something on the DirecTV portion of our phone bill.  A week before all of my hassles with them – they decided to give me three months of Showtime, Movie Channel and Sundance as a “loyalty gift”.  Nice, huh?  If only they had some decent movies on these channels!)


connan said...

I have DISH Network as my provider and I also have a DVR when I had a similar story with me needing a new HD DVR and DISH sent me a box at no charge at all I had the free insurance for 6 months which was great. As a DISH employee I know that Direc TV does not offer HD free for life on their basic packages like dish does and you do not get the full new customer promotion unless you go online or submit an online rebate application. Check out what DISH has to offer by calling or going to the online website.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had quite the adventure with DirecTV and I'm sorry to hear it but I'm not really surprised considering they have had a significant decline in Customer Satisfaction. I work for DISH Network and not only do I personally pride myself on Customer Service but so does the company.

FAsh10npr1nc3ss said...

I am sorry you had such a negative experience with DIRECTV. I work at DISH Network and I can say with utmost sincerity that there is a sincere FOCUS on customer service here at DISH. I would hope that you would look at dish.com and use our chat feature if you have questions about our services or pricing.